OBJECTIVE: To assess the effectiveness of psychotropic medication withdrawa
l and a home-based exercise program in reducing falls in older people.
DESIGN: A randomized controlled trial with a two by two factorial design.
SETTING: Seventeen general practices in Dunedin, New Zealand.
PARTICIPANTS: Women and men aged 65 years registered with a general practit
ioner and currently taking psychotropic medication (n = 93).
INTERVENTIONS: Two interventions: (1) gradual withdrawal of psychotropic me
dication versus continuing to take psychotropic medication (double blind) a
nd (2) a home-based exercise program versus no exercise program (single bli
MEASUREMENTS: Number of falls and falls risk during 44 weeks of follow-up.
Analysis was on an intent to treat basis.
RESULTS: After 44 weeks, the relative hazard for falls in the medication wi
thdrawal group compared with the group taking their original medication was
.34 (95% CI, .16-.74). The risk of falling for the exercise program group
compared with those not receiving the exercise program was not significantl
CONCLUSIONS: Withdrawal of psychotropic medication significantly reduced th
e risk of falling, but permanent withdrawal is very difficult to achieve.